Continued high levels of unauthorized immigrant workers in the United States have fostered concerns about whether they should be eligible for Social Security benefits. Until recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allowed noncitizens to collect benefits, regardless of their work authorization status, provided that they met certain legal presence requirements. However, in March 2004, Congress passed the Social Security Protection Act, which under Section 211, requires that noncitizens assigned a Social Security number (SSN) after 2003 have work authorization from current or past qualifying work to collect benefits. This report describes (1) the steps SSA has taken to implement Section 211 and how effective SSA's policies and procedures are in preventing improper benefit decisions, and (2) how Section 211 has affected the payment of benefits to unauthorized workers.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Social Security Administration||1. To assure proper benefit eligibility determinations and appeals processes, the Commissioner of Social Security should establish a control to identify potentially erroneous claims decisions for unauthorized workers assigned SSNs after 2003, such as an electronic edit check to identify such claims.|
|Social Security Administration||2. To assure proper benefit eligibility determinations and appeals processes, the Commissioner of Social Security should provide enhanced training to staff to assist them in properly processing claims covered by Section 211.|
|Social Security Administration||3. To assure proper benefit eligibility determinations and appeals processes, the Commissioner of Social Security should develop a standardized format for disapproval letters to ensure that staff provide applicants with all required information regarding the disapproval decision.|